Do you have a list of qualities you’d like in a significant other? I know I did. I wanted a guy who was cute and intelligent who had his life together and loved mornings. Navigating the world of dating I often measured up my dates to the criteria I had established in my head. I wasn’t crazy (not totally anyway). I didn’t kick a guy to the curb just because his jokes sometimes tanked, or decide he wasn’t worth a second date because he didn’t like Taylor Swift. On the contrary I made another (possibly worst) mistake that I believe a lot of us make when we’re searching for that special someone.
I dated a dreamboat.
When I started dating a guy who looked good on paper I started treating him like a dreamboat. I dated one particular guy for about six months who was right for me in SO many ways but wrong in one big way that I ignored. He was a perfectly nice guy, in fact, I referred to him as “Gatsby” on this blog. Gatsby was outgoing, he was intelligent, he was succeeding in his young career, he had lots of friends and he wore cute gingham shirts from J.Crew that made me imagine the cute Crewcuts outfits we would force out children to wear one day. See I’m crazy, just not totally crazy.
Gatsby was my dreamboat. He gave me just enough of himself for me to believe there was some sort of future. He was just perfect enough that I couldn’t let him go even though there was still something missing. He was a vessel for me to invest my dreams in. I dreamed of us saying “I love you” for the first time. I dreamed of him giving me a drawer in his bedroom and staying over four nights a week. I dreamed of backpacking in Europe and sunbathing in Hawaii. I dreamed of someday meeting his parents and introducing him to mine.
Dating a Dreamboat
I threw dreams at this guy so fast and so hard I should have had motion sickness, eventually it caught up with me and I was left crying on the ground and showing up to babysitting gigs with puffy eyes that made me look like I’d caught a bacterial infection. He wasn’t a bad guy (though the end of our relationship was certainly questionable), he just wasn’t the right guy for me. While I was busy silently unpacking my dreams I failed to notice that even though he was so perfect on paper…we didn’t actually click. So even though I was thrusting my dreams at my Gatsby our connection wasn’t really all that superb to begin with.
To start he couldn’t ever seem to remember that my eyes were green and not blue, which would have been fine except he also seemed weirdly obsessed with being with a blonde girl (which made me feel like a concept not a special person).
And he couldn’t open up about feelings with me, and believe it or not I am a MAJOR feelings person.
He didn’t make me laugh, and usually thought my sarcasm was serious.
I felt self conscious around him and I knew he didn’t think I was very intelligent.
We weren’t best friends, yet I was planning weekend getaways and relationship milestones as if he were my “other half”, but he wasn’t. He was just my dreamboat, a place for me to throw my dreams and watch them sail away.
Pardon my weird analogy comparing men to boats for a minute and answer (to yourself) honestly…have you ever dated a dreamboat? Is the idea of a person (the DREAM of a person) way better than the reality? Dreamboats don’t magically manifest into your fantasies, they usually float away or worst…sink.
Luckily (and I only say luckily in hindsight) my dreamboat peaced out before I even had the chance to realize we were broken up (#ouch). I was left scrambling to find where my hopes for our future had landed only to realize they were based on a fantasy person and an exaggerated relationship NOT something substantial and real. I was so heartbroken over the loss of potential more so than over the loss of my Gatsby. I’ve learned a valuable lesson; if you’re going to cry so much you make it look like you got stung on the eyelid by a bee…cry over an actual loss not a figment of your imagination.
More important than my lesson about tears I learned about dreamboats. I think a lot of times we are so eager to find the perfect relationship we turn something not so great into the relationship we want. We date dreamboats. Instead of wasting our precious lives (and imaginative skills) we should look at each relationship with clear an unbiased eyes. If he (or she) isn’t making you feel secure and happy and excited now, why should he (or she) make you all of those things when he finally says “I love you” or proposes or asks you to move in? Artificial milestones aren’t what make relationships right, being with the right person (combined with commitment and hard work) makes relationships right.
Stop sailing on the dreamboat and set sail on your own until you can find someone equally awesome to sail through reality with you.